Clarksburg Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer
Truck drivers often spend many hours on the road, making them vulnerable to fatigue. In a large commercial truck, this is one of the most dangerous conditions the driver can operate under.
If you were injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer, a Clarksburg truck driver fatigue accident lawyer may be able to help. Experienced attorneys could investigate the cause of an accident and help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued
The most obvious danger of driving while overtired is the risk of the driver falling asleep. There are also other types of fatigue such as sleep deprivation, in which the driver has had poor quality sleep or disrupted sleep patterns. Regardless of the cause, fatigue can lead to inattention and distraction. This could cause a truck operator to follow too closely or fail to pay attention to the traffic around them.
Fatigue can lead truckers to travel too fast for the conditions and make illegal maneuvers. When a driver is fatigued, it is more difficult to see, read, and comprehend road conditions. If the driver is in an area they are not familiar with, they have to rely on road signs to tell them about upcoming conditions or exits.
Regulations Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation, has regulations related to hours of service for a truck driver. For instance, it has a regulation that the maximum travel time for a truck driver is 11 hours consecutively. Additionally, a truck driver can spend no more than 14 consecutive hours on duty, even if they are not driving all of this time. If a truck operator is waiting at a shipyard for loading or unloading, that counts as on-duty time but not as travel time.
Drivers are also required to have 10 hours of rest while off-duty. They may not drive more than 60 hours every seven days on duty, and they may not drive more than 70 hours every eight days on duty. Part of the reason for those regulations is to reduce truck driver fatigue.
Commercial truck drivers are required to keep a travel log reporting their hours. Employers often have systems in place in the trucks that not only track their location but also monitor things such as truck speed, periods in operation, downtime, or hard-braking incidents. Through electronic means in the truck itself, many employers are able to keep track of the hours a driver spends behind the wheel.
Gathering Evidence in a Fatigue Accident Case
Proving fatigue is not an easy thing because there are different reasons for fatigue and accidents. Some can be attributed to fatigue, some cannot. To assign liability in driver fatigue accidents, whether it is to the trucking company or the driver, a person should have an attorney who could interview the driver, the witnesses to the crash, and co-workers of the driver.
A Clarksburg truck driver fatigue crash attorney could review work schedules, driver logbooks, cellphone records, surveillance videos, and medical records of the driver before and after the crash. Medical records from before the crash could indicate health issues such as sleep apnea, diabetes, or other conditions that can cause fatigue, putting the driver and employer on notice of a potential problem.
Trucking Company Liability for Fatigue-Related Crashes
A trucking company that employs the driver could be liable for a fatigue-related accident. This concept is called vicarious liability, meaning employers are responsible for their employees’ negligence, carelessness, and recklessness while in the course and scope of their employment. The trucking company would be responsible, but the driver could still be found personally liable if their conduct is within the scope of their employment. A jury might excuse a driver for violating the FMCS regulations and place all of the blame on the employer if it feels the employer put a lot of pressure on the driver, but that is rare.
Is Driving While Tired a Crime?
If evidence can be established that a driver knowingly chose to drive while too tired, this reckless conduct could be charged as a crime. Driving while tired could be considered reckless if the driver knew they did not have restful sleep before the crash or they had medical conditions that made them subject to fatigue or drowsiness. In addition, the driver log books can show whether someone was working too many hours leading up to the crash and thereby in a situation that would contribute to fatigue. All of that can lead to a fatigued truck driver being charged with a crime.
Contact a Clarksburg Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Attorney
If you were in a crash caused by an overtired truck operator, you may be entitled to compensation. For help with your case, consider contacting an experienced Clarksburg truck driver fatigue accident lawyer today. Let a lawyer pursue a claim on your behalf, so you can focus on healing.